TORONTO,ON–Canadian basketball is shining bright like a diamond these days, and so is the CIS. On July 29, Canada Basketball revealed its invite list for the Senior Men’s National Team.
General manager Steve Nash called this era “the golden age of basketball in this country,” and with good reason. More and more Canadians are playing in the NBA, and the ascent of the sport is symbolized by Canadian Anthony Bennett becoming the first Canadian ever selected first overall in this year’s NBA Draft. Andrew Wiggins is hopeful to make it two in a row in 2014.
Among the invitees for the selection camp, this year, are a wily NBA veteran (i.e. Joel Anthony), a veteran national team member (i.e. Carl English) and NBA players (i.e. Andrew Nicholson, Tristan Thompson).
But Nash may as well have been talking about the CIS when he called this the golden age of Canadian basketball. Because Carleton Ravens’ superstar point guard Philip Scrubb and NPH #1-ranked player in the nation, is among the players invited to the camp.
The CIS has always had a perception problem–mainly, that most had little to no respect for the league–but maybe that’s about to change. Warren Ward has apparently enjoyed a fine summer, ultimately signing in Germany, and now Scrubb has been invited to the men’s national team selection camp.
The fact that he has received an invitation–regardless of whether he makes the final team–says a lot. It’s a good sign. That’s because now that Bennett has put his one foot in the door, and now that Wiggins appears poised to push it wide open, it’s all of Canadian basketball that will reap the benefits.
That includes the CIS.
Since for notoriety the league is somewhat on a low rung of the Canadian basketball totem, the best outcome is greater awareness. The hope is that as a bright light is shone on the sport as a whole, the CIS remains in the mix.
This needs to come from within, first, because a prophet needs a country that he can call home. Awareness and recognition outside of Canada will come later, but only after it’s happened in Canada already. It all starts with the All-Canadian point guard from Richmond, B.C., who’s a great ambassador for the CIS.
Scrubb is widely regarded as the league’s best player, but players behind him are hungry to prove this statement wrong in the upcoming season, and take some spotlight.
However, Scrubb is the engine that make the three-time defending national champions Ravens crow. At six-foot-three, he has great size for the position. He has the pedigree too, and the intelligence. But his biggest strength is probably his shooting, as his 2013 percentages of 55.7, 57.0 and 81.9 from the field, the three-point line and the free-throw line can attest.
When Philip Scrubb wins, it’s the entire CIS who wins. The more he is successful, the more likely it is that, say, a David Tyndale or Tut Ruach doesn’t need to explain to his European teammates which league it is that he played in. The hope is that it becomes easier for CIS players to get opportunities at the top European leagues, and beyond for the few deserving.
The first step for the men’s national team will be the 2013 Jack Donohue Classic on August 8 and 10 against Jamaica at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. From there, all eyes will be on securing a spot for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
In the meantime, Scrubb will work to secure his.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG & NPH @Northpolehoops